You catch furtive glances, snarky remarks, and giggles behind your back. Knowing how to deal with gossip and the people who spread it about you is not always easy but can be done.
Gossip is a habit that throws a damper on life. Elusive as it is, it’s not all out of our control. Here’s what you can do to deal with gossip about you.
Why Do People Gossip?
The first thing to do when people gossip about you is to find the root cause of it. You will find it easier to stop it if you understand the perspectives of the gossipers. Gossiping gives people the chance to spread ‘valuable’ information.
We wouldn’t be able to sustain our societies otherwise, and psychologists suggest as much. Gossip plays a part in maintaining social groups. Furthermore, people find gossip useful when they are not able to get the information themselves.
Hard as it is to believe, people don’t always perceive gossip as unfavorable. Some academics see the spreading of rumor as a form of cultural learning. It presents opportunities to teach children what socially acceptable behavior is.
For example, if there are people in the neighborhood who cheat people of their money, the gossip about them will warn others about their behavior.
How to Deal with Gossip
Gossip is not trivial but draining. It isn’t always easy to brush off, and you may experience a slew of difficult emotions. The first item on your ‘beat-the-gossip’ agenda should be to navigate them.
1. Control Your Negativity
It’s difficult to stop people from talking about you behind your back, but you can choose how to respond to the gossip. You might react to unwanted hearsay with anger, helplessness, and worry. These negative emotions can drain and demotivate you.
Take some time to calm yourself. You’re more likely to come up with solutions when you are not reactive than if you are.
2. Widen Your Outlook
Gossip makes you feel devalued, ashamed, and desperately angry. You feel powerless and may lose sight of the big picture. You may become self-focused and develop a skewed perspective of the situation. You’ll need to develop a positive mindset to avoid this.
3. Be Kind to Yourself and the Gossiper
Forgiving hurts is close to impossible, especially with extreme transgressions. False news can be detrimental in many ways. But as the adage goes, forgive for yourself, and not others.
Studies support the notion that forgiveness benefits a person’s emotional well-being. It renews a person’s energy and empowers him or her.
4. Disassociate from the Situation
Disassociate yourself from the gossip, and acknowledge that the situation doesn’t necessarily reflect you. Then rumors are more about the gossipers themselves. People tell tales about others to protect their egos or positions. They attempt to bring others down to put themselves in a good light.
5. Be Patient
Prepare to play the long game if you are a victim of gossip. A few rumors may be destructive but are likely to be so only for the short term. People will see the truth over time if you let your actions speak for you.
6. Focus on the Positive Than the Negative
It may not seem so, but the good often outweighs the bad. While you may be the target of gossip, your superiors respect you for your work, and you’re taking home a substantial paycheck. Your family loves and supports you, and you appreciate that you have reliable neighbors.
Remembering what’s going right will help you to stomach the unwanted gossip.
7. You’re Not Alone
The most devastating part of going through the stressful experience of being gossiped about is dealing with aloneness. Remember that you won’t be the only one going through it. Build a support system by forming alliances with those who feel the same way as you.
Dealing with People Who Spread Gossip
Besides navigating your emotions, you’d have to deal with the rumor mongers themselves. These suggestions may help you manage your relations with them.
Tell others how the rumors and gossip are affecting you. If it makes you uncomfortable, let those who are spreading the news know that they shouldn’t be saying anything negative about others. If you wish to be more direct, express that the conversation is starting to feel like gossip, and talk about something else.
People who gossip mercilessly usually do so because of low self-esteem. You can turn the tide by saying something to boost their egos. They’d be more likely to feel positive towards you and not say anything hurtful.
You can confront the source of the gossip directly, though not confrontationally. Perhaps the rumors started as a result of a misunderstanding. Addressing the person who spreads the news may give the person a more positive perspective of you and prompt them to stop speaking ill.
Facing a gossip often precedes an ugly situation, and is why few people would do it if possible. But if you explain your point of view and the hurt you feel with sincerity, you may turn things in your favor. Take a non-confrontational approach; you’re more likely to win empathy.
Finally, turn their wild rumors into messages of hope. You can respond to gossip by encouraging people to accept those whom they speak ill of into the community.
Now you know how to deal with gossip and prevent it from influencing you. You’re doing yourself an injustice if you let it dampen your spirit.